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Randini: Sheffield man behind escapologist Harry Houdini - AUDIO

MASTER magician Houdini had a little help from a Sheffield chum while planning some of his most famous tricks – according to a talk being given as part of the Off The Shelf festival tomorrow, Sunday, October 11.

Sheffield author Ann Beedham will be leading an illustrated talk tomorrow entitled 'Randolph O Douglas - The Man Who Helped Houdini'.

"I've always had an interest in magic," said Ann, a graphic artist with The Star and author of 'Randini - The Man Who Helped Houdini'.

She discovered the Sheffield lad was a lifetime friend of Houdini after they met at The Empire, on Charles Street, in Sheffield.

The two collaborated on a number of tricks and swapped tips, although they never performed on stage together.

They would often meet up when Houdini was travelling up north and stayed in regular contact until Houdini's death in 1926.

"Though he never achieved the success and glory of his friend, Randolph was a skilled magician and gave Houdini a lot of ideas for some of his big tricks," said Ann.

In fact, Houdini's most iconic escape, from a straitjacket while suspended upside down hundreds of feet in the air, was a creation of Randolph's - known by his onstage persona of Randini.

Randini dreamed of becoming a great escapologist, but when his plans to become a performer were wrecked by ill health, he went on to build tiny models, which are now displayed at the House of Wonders in Castleton.

Call 0114 278 2655 to book a place for Ann's talk at Weston Park Museum tomorrow.

* Randolph O Douglas:The Man Who Helped Houdini, an Illustrated talk by Ann Beedham, will be held at Museums Sheffield: Weston Park, Western Bank, S10, tomorrow, Sunday, October 11, 2009, from 2pm.

Tickets are 4/3 (cons). Places must be booked with Museums Sheffield -Tel. 0114 278 2655 (Mon-Fri) or e-mail learning@museums-sheffield.org.uk

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